Many truck drivers are still unaware of truck stop electrification technology and a recent survey was conducted via trucking social media on drivers’ attitudes towards TSEs.
The following are the questions, drivers’ responses, and industry analysis from the survey:
- Are you an owner operator, lease operator, or company driver? 31.1% answered owner operator with 8.9% leased and 60% company driver.
Analysis: As companies realized that logistics is a critical element of their strategy, trucking operations have been brought in-house or outsourced to large national fleet operators. Therefore, the high percentage of respondents who identify themselves as “business drivers” is consistent with industry trends.
- About how many nights do you spend on the road each year? 0-100 = 11.1%, 101-200 = 8.9%, 201-300 = 40%, and 301+ = 40%.
Analysis: Trucking remains a critical element of the country’s shipping infrastructure. With the exponential growth of e-commerce and its trusted network of fulfillment centers near population centers, long-distance trucking has grown in importance. In turn, drivers are spending more and more nights away from their base of operations.
- Where do you usually park at night? Company terminal = 26.7%, Shipper-Receiver = 48.9%, Rest area = 57.8%, Truck stop = 86.7%, Others = 22.2%.
Analysis: To date, TSE facilities have concentrated their marketing efforts at truck stops and rest areas across the country. While these locations are the most important for meeting drivers’ TSE needs, a major opportunity to save fuel and reduce emissions involves installing equipment at shipping and receiving points. A TSE company is currently working to install its technology next to the JFK Air Cargo facility. This pilot program would provide invaluable information on the value of TSE in a sender/receiver parking area.
- Are you inactive most nights? Yes = 42.2%, No = 57.8%
Analysis: TSE internal field surveys suggest that the main alternative to idling is a sleeping bag and drivers’ tolerance for discomfort. While this saves fuel and reduces emissions, drivers don’t get a full night’s rest, which, in turn, affects their daytime alertness and overall safety on the road.
- Does your company provide an APU? Yes = 28.9%, No = 71.1%
Analysis: APU is an important technology. However, cost and weight (over 400 pounds) have been significant inhibitors. There is no national legislation that excludes the weight of an APU unit from the total weight limits. With an emphasis on maximizing loads, the weight factor is significant.
- Does your company pay for TSE services? Yes = 6.7%, No = 93.3%
- Does your company pay for hotel rooms instead of sitting idle? Yes = 6.7%, No = 93.3%
Analysis: Trucking companies have done little to offer alternatives to idling. More than 93% of drivers reported that their employers do not pay for the use of TSE or accommodation. Since these same employers will pay for fuel, few drivers have an incentive to turn off their engines. Even in cases where the company will cover the cost of idling alternatives, drivers report slow reimbursement.
- Does your company offer you a fuel voucher? Yes = 24.4%, No = 75.6%
Analysis: Once again, there is a disconnect between driver rewards and TSE’s financial savings, including lower fuel consumption and reduced engine wear. More than 75% of drivers do not receive any incentive to reduce fuel consumption.
- Do you regularly see TSE locations where it closes overnight? Yes = 8.9%, No = 91.1%
- Do you regularly pass TSE locations along your route? Yes = 35.6%, No = 64.4%
Analysis: The biggest challenge for the industry is readily available TSE sites, especially along major highway corridors. The survey clearly shows that much remains to be done to make TSE facilities ubiquitous.
- Have you ever tried Truck Stop Electrification (TSE) services? Yes = 28.9%, No = 71.1%
Analysis: The electrification of truck stops makes sense for drivers. Even with limited availability, nearly 30% of respondents have tried it.
- If your company paid you to use TSE, would you try it? Yes = 86.7%, No = 13.3%
Analysis: Clearly, the biggest barrier to using TSE is economics. As seen in the answers above, the vast majority of drivers have no incentive to save fuel. If transportation companies covered anti-idling, utilization would increase significantly.
The Truck Stop Electrification Survey was conducted during November 2012.